A jail term has been imposed on a Folkestone man whose drugs network used the encrypted Encrochat phone system to organise deals in east Kent.

Using information gained from the criminal phone system, detectives from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate found that Jordan Nicholl and his brother Ryan Nicholl were supplying drugs on a large scale between March and June 2020.

Both men were detained during pre-planned warrants at their respective homes and Jordan Nicholl was sentenced to four and a half years at Canterbury Crown Court on Wednesday 22 June 2022.

Car stopped

The evidence against Jordan Nicholl stemmed partly from a police stop on Sunday 9 May 2020, when officers in Deal became suspicious of a blue Renault Megane.

£315,000 in cash

The car was stopped and a search led to an encrypted mobile phone and £315,000 in cash being located and seized.

A forensic review of the notes found Jordan Nicholl’s fingerprints on several bundles. Further research showed he had travelled close to where the exchange took place.

Jordan Nicholl, 32, of Atkinson Road, Folkestone, later admitted conspiring to supply cannabis as well as possession of and transfer of criminal property.

Jordan Nicholl Latest
Jordan Nichol

Encrypted messages

The wider investigation into the brothers’ activities found messages that suggested they had shared the profits of their drug dealing.

Using the alias ‘lawfulshark’, Ryan Nicholl and others used the encrypted Encrochat phone system to communicate with organised criminals and buy and sell large quantities of drugs.

Unbeknownst to them however, the network had been infiltrated by police and was being actively monitored.

Analysis of the messages showed the sale of large amounts of drugs, mainly cocaine, was being organised through Encrochat, with photographs of illegal substances often shared before a price was agreed.

Following the police seizure of money from the car in May 2020, messages showed they were forced to break off an association with a supplier.

Seized money collage
The cash found in the car.

Arrests

Both brothers were arrested on 23 November 2020, when simultaneous warrants were carried out at their addresses by Kent Police. They were charged the next day and have since been held on remand.

Ryan Nicholl, 37, of Tram Road, Folkestone, has since admitted conspiring to supply class A and class B drugs and will be sentenced at a later date.

The driver of the Megane was a 37-year-old man from Crawley. He admitted acquiring criminal property and was sentenced to 22 months’ imprisonment in July 2020.

Detective Constable Aaron Chapman, Kent Police’s investigating officer, said: ‘Both brothers went to great lengths to conceal their offending but, despite their well-organised and sophisticated attempts to evade capture, we were able to gradually piece together their criminality and identify them.

‘There can never be any tolerance shown to people who conspire to supply drugs on our streets and I am pleased one brother has now been jailed and the other awaits sentence.’

By Ed

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